New Health Class Focuses on Ways to Prevent Dementia


Save Your Brain class. (WHO-HD)

Data pix.

DES MOINES, Iowa – One Des Moines Metro class is educating people on how to help reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The Save Your Brain class focuses on ways people can live a healthier lifestyle.

Instructor Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the former epidemiologist for the state of Iowa, said one tip is for people to follow the Mediterranean and Dash diet.

“For example, blueberries. Blueberries are really good for your brain. Then, of course, we need people to be active. Sitting all day is just not good for any of your body including your brain,” Quinlisk said.

Both diets focus on consuming vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, and low sodium foods.

Student Laine Custer said she decided to take the class after watching her father battle the disease.

“The biggest thing that’s helping me besides all the good information and up-to-date information is the way they are teaching the class, the techniques, the tools that they give us to really get in a habit of doing the things that will make a difference,” Custer said.

Quinlisk said another change people can make in their life is challenging their brains by starting a new hobby like learning an instrument or joining a book club.

“What really has been demonstrated to really get your brain strong is to do something that is hard, that takes a long time and then that you have to use,” Quinlisk said.

Custer reads the Harry Potter book series to her grandchildren and discusses the chapters with them.

The third lifestyle change is staying active.

Student Bob Dunaway said he joined the class because he noticed he was beginning to forget friends’ names.

“I just wanted to do the things that might help my mind stay sharper and to be able to remember things better,” Dunaway said.

In addition, people will hear from speakers like pharmacists who explain over-the-counter drugs that could potentially trigger dementia if used too frequently.

“What we call the ‘PM’ medicines. The aspirin PM, Tylenol PM that PM means that they’ve included Benedryl and Benedryl is not a good medicine for your brain. It actually can increase your risk for dementia,” Quinlisk said.

Students in the class work with a dietitian to create a healthy diet and a personal trainer for activities to stay active.

The 10-week course is in partnership with the YMCA. Members pay $100. Non-members will pay a $180 fee.

The next class begins mid-January. For more information call 515-575-9220 or email

November marks Alzheimer's Awareness month.


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